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So today's video is a story, a story of how I met two Japanese shamisen players called Kiki and
How we ended up
traveling the world together and a little bit about how this basically became my job. How it took me out of a
Corporate job that I'd worked for nearly a decade and into a brand new world of getting to travel and enjoy
Japanese music and make videos and you know, what? If I don't leave this hotel room right away, we're gonna be late
So let's just get going
Thank you
We're in Vancouver and while the weather is actually really nice right now it snowed this morning
It's weird to see the mix of cherry blossom petals and snow
The girls are actually doing like a tour of Vancouver right now
So we've had like performances, events, workshops pretty much
Every single day since we've got here and today's our last day
There's a marathon today so
The streets are like empty and we're just about at the girls hotel
So, this is Hikari and this is Kanami and together. They're a Japanese shamisen duo called KiKi
And while right now these two are top level
Japanese shamisen players and we are touring the world together sharing their music. It wasn't always like this
So let me go back a little bit so I can tell you the story from the beginning
So the story actually starts back in about 2011. It was I believe January 2011
I had gone out to Meiji Shrine to check out the coming-of-age Day ceremony
which is one of my favorite ceremonies here in Japan and
Afterwards I went into Shibuya and for some reason all the streets were closed off for
Performances as I was walking along the street I ran into these two shamisen players. They were just playing on the street
But we didn't talk at that time, right (KiKi: no)
At the time all I had was like a little iPod touch
So I took a bit of a video of them didn't put it online
In fact, it wasn't until probably six months to a year later when I ran into them again at Yoyogi Park
That I actually recorded a proper video on a DSLR that I had just bought for the first time by the way
By that time I had actually just started my own shamisen training
And so I asked the girls if it was okay to put the video up on YouTube. They said (KiKi:Yes)
We rehearsed that and that was kind of the first time I ever really seriously put something up on YouTube
I named the YouTube channel shamisen in Tokyo
And I pretty much intended on putting up like every single piece of shamisen music from any player that I found around the city
but after a couple months of recording different players
the only pieces that I really felt were upload worthy were the ones from
Kiki so I kept recording them kept uploading them and then one day something really interesting happened.
A few years after all of that we ended up performing at the exact same event
Kiki was like the main act for that event and somehow, I still don't know how, I ended up playing before them
So funny side story
I have the good fortune to actually be learning from the Yoshida brothers and one of them
showed up to support me at the performance and sat like right in the front row and
Kiki didn't expect him to be there
So they came out and saw him and they were like wait, why is one of the Yoshida brothers here?
That night was a good start
We had a chance to have some food some oden and drink and that was kind of the start of our friendship
So now shortly after this that I realized that very first video that I uploaded of them had hit over 10,000 views
So I invited them over for coffee so we could like celebrate
Then we made the very first ever like Kiki promo video on shamisen in Tokyo
We came to Tokyo 8 years ago
So we just watched that video yesterday and the two girls were like, oh my god it's so embarrassing
And all of this gave birth to a project. I started to shoot pretty much
Single performance that Kiki would do in the hopes of someday making a documentary, but we also started a series
Called shamisen under the cherry blossoms
And it was started with the entire purpose of landing us future work
So we're, we're like literally like in the of a middle forest right now
There's like a pond over here, I don't I don't even know what this is
There's some Canadian Geese over there
The under the cherry blossoms video came up because sakura season itself was right around the corner
and the first year we didn't actually do the video with the girls in kimono
we just had them in what's called fudangi, which is just their normal clothing and uh
There was an old man who just like walked through this frame in like the middle of the video
But we liked it so much that we just left it in the final version and then uploaded it
The next year we decided to do it again and it was around the third year that we decided to put the girls in kimono
(KiKi: yeah!) And
Really, really give some impact to the video and while the shamisen under the cherry blossoms video series was
Popular it did take at least three years for them to start gaining any real traction
So in between these videos we would just travel the country together. we would go up to the shamisen taikai
in Aomori. We went down to like shikoku
basically just go all over the place and do performances and make music but but the girls have a performance up in like like
15-20 minutes. So I'm gonna let them get prepped for that and we'll talk about this a little more afterwards
Performance is finally finished.
So it kind of brings us back to where we were before talking about putting up content and making videos like the shamisen
Under the cherry blossoms videos.
(everyone gasping)
I just introduced the girls to the green apple suckers, I don't know if you've ever had these but I love them.
It's really good.
So the more content we made and the more of the video started to spread out the more the job offer started to come in
most of them were in Japan
But in this time I found myself kind of becoming like a like a producer or manager or something.
It was at the same time exciting and overwhelming and everything
But it was at this time that I made Kiki a promise and I promised them that I would
Take them overseas at some point
I remember.
Now even at the time I was very aware of how bold of a promise it was that I would take them overseas
For a performance someday
But considering that was part of the plan when I first started everything I had confidence that I'd be able to pull it off.
I knew who's just gonna take consistent work and above all else
Patience. Which by the way is something that a lot of people seem to really undervalue in the grand scheme of things
I probably could have squeezed it in a much shorter time
But all too often people will trade out the long-term win for some kind of short-term gain
And it's not worth the sacrifice. So I wanted to do this properly, which means I knew it was gonna take some time.
Did you bite it?!
Just wow. So with all that being said it brings us a little closer to where we are now
Which is how we started getting overseas, but I'll tell you guys about that in a minute.
So around 2017 the offers started coming in but pretty much every offer would fall through right away
When they realize the intense costs of bringing two to three people all the way overseas to do a show
I'll spare you all the details, but it's it's not cheap
There's actually around that time that I started this channel
thought it might be nice to also showcase some of the behind the scenes on my adventures and the adventures
I was doing with Kiki so there's that.
and it was shortly after starting tokyo lens that we got our first
really serious offer for a job overseas.
The job was actually for here, Canada, Vancouver
KiKi's gonna do some shopping. I'll see you guys later
And that was only the first of the overseas shows to roll in and it was good practice and it was a good warm-up for
Everything that would follow because since then we got offers for places like Italy
Australia the states like you name it?
In fact in May Hikari's going to Germany while Kanami and I go to the states so that'll be fun.
But the point is that we're here and what got us here was consistently pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to put up
Content. You see when I put up that very first introduction video with Kiki that I showed at the beginning
The girls were wildly uncomfortable, but they really wanted to do it and that level
Of perseverance despite the discomfort is definitely one of the things that inspired
me to start Tokyo Lens. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for meeting Kiki and
Working on the projects that we're doing together that this channel right here that you're watching right now
wouldn't exist. That in my mind that that's a win in its own but that being said
I've got to buy some omiyage a or gifts and then find the girls and we have a dinner in like 20 minutes
But it just goes to show the amazing things that can happen
If you actually push yourself to consistently step outside of your comfort zone and I really like that message
My last morning in Vancouver before heading back to Tokyo so Tim Hortons
Like it's not even particularly great coffee, but it's Tim Hortons
So it's one of those Canadian ritual things that you've got to do before you go back
Getting back to the main topic at this point
I've explained how I met Kiki and hopefully given a rough idea of how this
Became my job. More than anything. It came down to just believing in my own vision of the future and just consistently executing on that
Despite any failure, roadblocks or challenges that came up in the way.
I knew that making content was going to be the key when I first started which is why we took this approach and so far
Every single job that we've done overseas
Has come out of this content that we've made I never could have imagined when I bought my first
DSLR that it would eventually lead to me getting paid to travel the world with some of Japan's best
shamisen players
let alone have an entire channel of my own to share all of this with you and the three of us like, all three, not just
me, I want to say that we have so much gratitude for each of one of you who takes the time to actually watch the
content that we've made you might feel like you're just sitting there watching something but you're really
Contributing and helping. So thank you
Also fish
And there we go back in Japan and actually today the day that I'm releasing this video
We just arrived back in Japan and the girls are
Releasing their first major album through a label like I'm talking like CDs and stores and Spotify, you know
It's all gonna be linked down below if you're interested
But the best part of all of this is that it's not even close to the end of our plans. The future is still
Very bright. Now I've tried not to go too deeply into more technical or boring details
But hopefully still giving you kind of an idea of how we got here and this video was actually based on one of the most
popular episodes of the Tokyo lens
Podcast that I've ever done so I'm gonna link that down below in case you're interested in hearing a more detailed version of this.
Now that I'm back I've got to start getting this office sorted out
I've managed to unpack a couple of the boxes, but I think it's gonna have to wait because
Tomorrow I'm doing a day trip out to a samurai
Battlefield something I've never done before so
This will be something new. Thank you guys so much for watching up to this point in the video
It would mean the world to me if you guys would give that like button some love if you enjoyed this one
Maybe share it somewhere. Definitely leave me something in the comments.
I will see you guys again in just a couple days.
So I'm gonna get to work on this for now pack my bags for tomorrow, and you guys know I will see you again
Real soon. Thanks guys
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How I Get Paid to Travel The World With Japanese Musicians

13 Folder Collection
周建丞 published on April 21, 2020
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